It’s been a while since we’ve had a guest contributor write a piece for Barrett Sports Media. It’s why I reached out recently to Sandy Cohen. Sandy is the VP and Director of Sales for Union Broadcasting, an independent group that owns sports talk stations in Kansas City, Louisville, and Wichita.
Sandy is one of the many independent station operators whose success can be overlooked by national advertisers. Without multiple stations in a single market to offer them, agencies have a tendency to bypass the opportunity to work with stations like Sandy’s, even if those brands may be able to produce results for their clients.
Despite a heavy work schedule, Sandy made time to write this open letter to those agencies. Hopefully, this shines a light on the benefits of working with local broadcasters, the impact they can make in their markets, and how they can be of service to any advertiser aiming to grow their business.
Dear Advertising Agency,
Thank you for the opportunity to take a shot at earning your business. I appreciate the request for a proposal you sent to me. When I receive your RFP, my team and I are well-trained to build a marketing solution that will help you perform at the highest level on our radio stations and digital platform.
Each member of the sales team averages nearly 15 years working at our locally-owned company and we know what will benefit you and your client best while paying attention to your goals. We are one of a handful of local operators around the country. The opportunity to present to you on behalf of your client is a privilege and means a lot to me and my business partners. We have poured countless hours and money into our operation so we can compete with the large groups and earn your advertising partnerships. We approach our work differently because we are the decision-makers. We work quickly and effectively and do it with one goal in mind, to make it work for your client, for the long haul. We want you and your client to be a partner for many years to come, not four weeks in 4th quarter.
So with this in mind, have you ever considered utilizing our locally owned sports radio stations and our digital platform differently than the traditional radio stations you are buying in the market? Your requests are cost per point or cost per thousand driven and do not typically offer us the opportunity to put our product and talent to work for your greatest benefit. Why not consider engaging with one of our personalities or one of their segment guests for an endorsement campaign or endorsement as part of your overall campaign?
Rarely does a personality have a better connection and ability to influence their audience, than one tied to sports radio. Consider these potential benefits we have for you and your client. In Kansas City for example, I have six local show hosts in primetime and evenings combined and each has many seasonal and regular segment guests that make their shows entertaining. These segment guests are professional football, baseball, basketball and soccer players, coaches and analysts. Our primetime show hosts are on radio four hours a day, five days a week minimum. Throughout the week, they host additional specialty radio shows, TV shows, are TV color commentators and analysts for some of our local teams, regularly podcast and use social media on all available platforms. They are heavily involved in our community, tied to charities, emcee many community events and speak to many different special interest groups. Each member of our Kansas City on-air team averages 16 years on my station. In Louisville, our hosts average nearly 10 years on the station, which is close to our inception in that market. The equity they have built with our audience is huge. Many leading sports radio stations around the country are no different than me and my team.
Consider Nate Bukaty and Steven St John, our morning show hosts in Kansas City. Nate has been with us since 2004, Steven since 1998. Kansas City afternoon host, Soren Petro is so knowledgeable and knows so much about sports. A well-respected journalist locally and nationally as he contributes to sports radio shows around the country as a segment guest year-round. All three are Kansas City natives, and currently have long-standing endorsement partnerships with car dealers, mortgage companies, window and garage coating companies, health clubs, jewelry stores, med spas, outdoor decking companies, home automation services, patio furniture stores and more. We have success story after success story where each of these sponsors can attribute sales to Sports Radio 810 and our hosts and the personality who is standing behind them.
The same holds true for all our Kansas City hosts, Bob Valvano and Drew Deener in Louisville and Shane Dennis in Wichita. Each are professional in their approach to entertain and understand that we need to perform for our sponsor partners to keep the machine running. A few success stories:
Steven St John has quite a personality and it sells product. Pajamagram has been a regular partner around the holidays several times throughout the year, partnering with Steven to sell the world’s softest pajamas. They track results and we consistently earn the highest sales result as compared to stations and personalities around the country.
Nate Bukaty has done a fabulous job positioning a local jewelry store, Joslin’s Jewelry as the place in Kansas City to shop for engagement rings and all jewelry including repairs at a fair price. They have been a partner of ours since inception in 1998.
Soren Petro has been Robert Brogden Buick GMC’s spokesperson since 2004. He tallies a running total of vehicles he and his co-host, producer and segment guests have purchased. Over 20 and counting in the last three years. All our station partners benefit from being members of this exclusive club. We make it a point to set up entertainment events where business owners can network together and oftentimes they want to support each other.
Now consider the passionate fan base that follows our sports teams that our hosts are covering this Fall. In Kansas City it’s our Chiefs and big 12 football, in Louisville it’s U of L and Kentucky football and in Wichita it’s the Chiefs and Cowboys until WSU basketball season kicks in. There is no better way to sell, market and brand your client’s product and services than on local sports radio. For a small additional talent fee, consider connecting with our audience on all levels, radio, digital and social, by signing on for a local personality endorsement as part of your campaign. Once you take that step I promise you will see greater results and increase your client’s sales.
We have a long list of successful local and regional businesses that have taken the steps to make a commitment to include a personality endorsement or segment-guest endorsement. I would be happy to share those details with you. And please consider affording us some credit to apply against your CPP’s and CPM’s when we are offering talent endorsement. You won’t be sorry and you will see the value in that extra credit.
We want to work with you for a very long time and so do our personalities. When you have that connection, you have something special. You are part of an exclusive club.
Sandy Cohen is the Vice President and Director of Sales for Union Broadcasting based in Kansas City. The company owns and operates 810 WHB in Kansas City, ESPN 680 and 93.9 The Ville in Louisville, and 92.3 The Fan in Wichita. To talk with him about this column or future business opportunities, reach him by email at SCohen@UnionBroadcasting.com.
Sam Mayes Got A Raw Deal But Tyler Media Made The Right Call
“You are being naive if you think a company should stand behind an employee that has put themselves in this situation.”
I do not envy whoever at Tyler Media had to make a decision about Sam Mayes’s future with the company after audio of a private conversation in 2016 was leaked to the media. Mayes and now-former co-worker Cara Rice made a few racist jokes at the expense of Native Americans.
The recording, according to Mayes, was made without his knowledge and leaked illegally. He says in a recorded statement that he should have been given the opportunity to address the recording on air and make amends.
Maybe that is true, maybe it isn’t. I hate for Sam to lose his job as the result of an illegal recording of a private conversation, but the fact is, that conversation isn’t private anymore. Tyler Media didn’t really have an option here. Sam Mayes had to go.
Someone had an illegal recording of the conversation and created an anonymous email account to send it to people in the Oklahoma City media. I was shown a copy of the email. The author states clearly that their goal is to see Mayes and Rice out of a job. There is nothing fair or just about that person getting exactly what they want. It feels slimy. I can’t say that it feels like it wasn’t the right call though.
We have debated whether or not someone should lose their job over comments made in a private conversation many times before. It happens in every field. It wasn’t long ago at all that we were having this same debate about Jon Gruden. His emails to Bruce Allen and others were sent in private. Is it fair he had to go when they were made public? No matter what horrible things were in there, they were said with the understanding that it would stay between friends.
I am going to say the same thing about Sam Mayes that I did about Gruden when that story first broke. You are being naive if you think a company should stand behind an employee that has put themselves in this situation.
You read that right. The circumstances of how the conversations in these examples came to light are absolutely unfair, but the conversations came to light. How it happened is irrelevant. Any sponsor or boss that stands behind Sam Mayes or Jon Gruden would be endorsing the language they used, either inadvertently or very much on purpose. Try explaining that to a sponsor.
People at Tyler Media may know Sam Mayes’s heart. He doesn’t seem like a bad guy. The fact of the matter is, once the audio became public, their hands were tied. There is no mistaking what was said or who said it.
How can any seller or manager take Mayes to advertisers now? How can they put him in front of the Lucky Star Casino, one of the station’s biggest advertisers? They can ask for an audience to let Sam explain himself and try to make amends. The Cheyenne and Arapahoe Tribes, who own the casino, are under no obligation to forgive or even listen.
Maybe the day will come where Sam Mayes bounces back. I hope it does. I hope he gets the chance to address his comments with members of Oklahoma’s Native American community and listen to what they have to say in response. I do think it sucks that this is how his time at The Franchise comes to an end, but I get it.
If I have to explain to you why not to say dumb, racist shit, then I don’t think we have much to talk about. But, it is worth noting that the recording of Mayes and Rice’s conversation is proof that privacy is always an assumption, not always a fact.
In his audio statement, Mayes admits it is his voice on the recording. He also says that he was uncomfortable with Rice’s comments and he tried to end their conversation. I’ll take him at his word, but I will also point out that before he tried to end the conversation, he joined in on the jokes. Maybe when someone says that Native Americans are “too drunk to organize” it isn’t a great idea to respond. All it leads to is proof of you saying something dumb and racist.
Again, I’ll reiterate that how these comments came to light is unfair, but they did come to light. That is Sam Mayes’s voice on the recording. He is joining in on the jokes about Native Americans being drunks and addicts. At the end of the day, the only thing that was done to him was the audio being released. He fully and willingly committed the firable offense.
What is the response to a client or potential client when they bring that up? All Tyler Media can do is try to recover and move forward. The company cannot do that with Mayes on the payroll.
Stop Prospecting, Start Strategizing!
“You cannot put a price tag on authenticity. It’s very rare and hard to find these days.”
Struggling to get new business appointments? Dreading making prospecting calls? Having trouble writing creative emails that seemingly never get a response?
Generating responses to new business outreach is easier than you think. Just make sure you do your homework first and keep it “Simple Stupid”.
To do that, start with asking yourself these (3) simple questions:
#1: Did I do my home work on the business itself, their competition and those I plan on reaching out to?
#2: If I were on the other end of the phone and/or email with myself would I want to engage in conversation and/or reply to that email?
#3: Am I prepared to make a one call close given the opportunity to?
If the answer to any of these is “No”… do NOT pick up the phone and by all means do NOT hit the send button on that initial outreach email! Doing so will all but ensure you fall flat on your face. On the off chance you do happen to get the decision maker on the phone you won’t make that great first impression that sometimes can be so crucial. First impressions are always important… ALWAYS!
Skipping over these critical steps is a sure-fire way to ensure your email is completely ignored and will not generate the engagement from the prospect you’d hope for. Successful prospecting is all about the front end digging and research. Do your homework first then strategize a plan of attack for your call and/or email. Taking these extra measures on the front end is absolutely “Mission Critical” and will set you up for much more success with your prospecting endeavors.
Now once you’ve answered “Yes” to all of the above, you’re ready to attack with the knowledge and confidence that should set you a part from your competition. It’s all about the Game Plan, and if you don’t have one, you’re destined for failure time and time again. Incorporate these (5) things into your prospecting Game Plan for your next call/email and watch your results dramatically improve:
#1: MAKE IT PERSONAL & CASUAL – Be informal, find out something interesting about them.
#2: MAKE IT SHORT & CONCISE – Be straight forward and to the point, people are busy.
#3: MAKE IT TIMELY & RELEVANT TO THEM AND/OR THEIR BUSINESS – Give them a good Valid Business Reason.
#4: MAKE IT INTERESTING, COMPELLING & INFORMATIVE – Be the expert they’re missing.
#5: MAKE IT FUN – Fun people are easy to do business with and make it less like “work”.
Lastly, and most importantly, Be Yourself! You cannot put a price tag on authenticity. It’s very rare and hard to find these days. When clients do find it trust me, they value it and appreciate it way more than you’ll ever know!
Good Producers Can Teach The World A Lot About Christmas
“A lot has to be accomplished in the lead-up to Christmas. So much of it happens in the background without much recognition.”
Who is Carl Christmas in your house? Who is the one that makes sure everyone that needs to get a card does? Who comes up with the plan for the lights? Who takes the reins on the shopping?
Every home needs one and in my house, that’s me. December (including the last week of November) is my time to shine, baby!
One thing I have tried to impress upon my mom and wife this year is that shipping and supply chain delays are real. So, if you are planning on procrastinating on your online shopping this year (you know, like usual) someone (me) is going to have no presents under the tree.
Veteran producers are used to operate this way. Young producers, listen up. Your job involves the most delicate balance of any in sports radio. You have to help bring your host’s and PD’s visions to life. That means you have to be able to take their direction. But you also have to keep the host on target. That means you cannot be afraid to be forceful and lead when the moment demands it.
There’s no value to being an unrepentant asshole to people, but you do have to hold them accountable. Look at that Christmas shopping example again. If you want to get what you want, you need to keep on task the people you know aren’t paying attention to the potential roadblocks. It isn’t selfish. It is making sure everyone gets the holiday W they are expecting. Sure, you would be disappointed if your gift doesn’t arrive on time, but so will the gift giver.
Being a stickler for the clock or moving a host off of a topic that has no value is the same thing. Of course there is something in it for you, but you are also helping the host do his or her job better. They may get annoyed with you now, but if you save them from an ass-chewing from the bosses or slipping ratings, then they have reaped the benefits.
I guess the unfortunate difference here is that there may be no acknowledgment of what you did or helped them to avoid. Oh well. Every producer has to expect a certain level of thanklessness.
Producers have to take on that Carl Christmas role in dealing with sales too. Remember, just because the producer’s name isn’t on the show doesn’t mean that isn’t every bit his or her show that it is the hosts’.
It’s like decorating your house for the holidays. You may have a certain design in mind. Maybe you have a traditional look you stick to every year. If your spouse or your kid comes home with a giant, inflatable Santa Claus in a military helicopter that they want on the lawn, you have a decision to make. Are you going to say no and suggest an alternative that aligns more with your goal or are you going to let your plan get run over?
Sales has a job to do. It is to make sure their clients’ messages are heard and to make money for the station. Both can be accomplished without sacrificing your show’s quality.
If a seller comes to you and says he wants his client to come in for five minutes and talk about now being the time to book an appointment to have your garage floors redone, you have to speak up. You have an obligation to make sure that the seller knows that even five minutes of that will hurt the show and have listeners diving for the preset buttons on their car stereo. That isn’t good for the station or his client.
Instead, offer to work with the seller and the client to come up with a piece of content that the client can put his name on and a 20-second ad read behind. Will the audience stick around to listen to some dude named Jerry talk about garage floors or will more people listen to you talk about the NFL playoff picture in a creative way and then still be there to hear Jerry’s message about garage floors? The answer seems obvious.
A lot has to be accomplished in the lead-up to Christmas. So much of it happens in the background without much recognition. If the background work wasn’t done though, the problems would be right out on the front lawn for everyone to see.
“Gatekeeper” is a term I really hate. It implies that someone is telling others what they are and are not allowed to enjoy. It is a necessary term though to properly describe what it is that a great producer and a great Carl Christmas do.
We don’t shut people out from being able to enjoy or be a part of what it is we are creating. We set or are handed down expectations and we block anything that can get in the way of achieving them. Sometimes, that is more thankless work than it should be. It is necessary though.
As my home’s self-appointed Carl Christmas and a former producer, let me give my countrymen the thanks others forget. We are the ones that make it possible for everyone else to be mindless. Wear it as a badge of honor. We may not get the kind of recognition we deserve everyday, but when plans go off without a hitch, we are usually the first to be recognized for making it happen.
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